no instant illumination

When the Dalai Lama, the incarnation of Avalokiteshvara, first came to New York, there was an interesting event. At his first reception, in St. Patrick’s Cathedral where there were Roman Catholic clergy, Eastern patriarchs, Jewish rabbis, and, I suppose, even psychiatrists-what he said was, “All of your ways are valid ways to expansion of consciousness and illumination.” Of course, Cardinal Cook had to get up and say, “No, we’re different. Our religion is not to be confused with these other ways.’

I was also at the next event, a Buddhist event at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. About fifteen-hundred people from various Buddhist communities or societies in New York gathered in the big nave of that cathedral and had a real Tibetan ceremony, with monks chanting and all. The Dahli Lama gave a brief talk in Tibetan and a young man instantly translated his intricate theological Tibetan into English. What a fantastic performance!

What the Dalai Lama said was, “Now you are on the Buddhist way. Keep up your meditation, as there is no instant illumination. The mind moves slowly into this. Do not become attached to your method. When, in the course of your meditation, your consciousness will have expanded and been transformed, you will then recognize that all the ways are valid ways.”

The rational mind stresses opposites.

Compassion and love go beyond pairs of opposites.

Joseph Campbell, from Reflections on the Art of Living

all things that bishops do…

My misery lasted for years, perhaps even to this day. I was born, after all, on Friday the eighteenth of February, the day of souls, a very holy day indeed, and the old midwife clutched me in her hands, brought me close to the light, and looked at me with great care. She seemed to see some kind of mystic signs on me. Lifting me high, she said, “Mark my words, one day this child will become a bishop.”

When in the course of time I learned of the midwife’s prophecy, I believed it, so well did it match my own most secret yearnings. A great responsibility fell upon me then, and I no longer wished to do anything that a bishop would not have done. Much later, when I saw what bishops actually do, I changed my mind. Thenceforth, in order to deserve the sainthood I so craved, I wished to avoid all things that bishops do.

Nikos Kazantzakis, Report To Greco

We are strong when…

In the story, an old man is dying and calls his people to his side.
He gives a short, sturdy stick to each of his many offspring,
wives, and relatives. “Break the stick,” he instructs them. With
some effort, they all snap their sticks in half. “This is how it is
when a soul is alone without anyone. They can be easily
broken.” The old man next gives each of his kin another stick
and says, “…put your sticks together in bundles of twos and
threes. Now, break these bundles in half.” No one can break the
sticks when there are two or more in a bundle. The old man
smiles. “We are strong when we stand with another soul. When
we are with another, we cannot be broken. – Clarissa Pinkola

Photo by Catherine Sheila on

the dark hours of my being

I love the dark hours of my being
in which my senses drop into the deep.
I have found in them, as in old letters,
My private life, that is already lived through,
And become wide and powerful now, like legends.
Then I know that there is room in me
For a second huge and timeless life.

— Rainer Maria Rilke, Selected Poems, Robert Bly translation